Customer Insights – Your Secret Weapon to Greater Employee Engagement

Wharton Professor Adam Grant, in his outstanding book ‘Give and Take’, cites a startling bit of research – in a study of radiologists, simply attaching a patient’s photo to a CT Scan increased the chances of accuracy by 46% and 86% of the key diagnostic findings came only when the radiologist saw the patient’s photo.

If simply seeing a photo of a patient can make that dramatic a difference in productivity for an analytical profession such as radiology, think of what bringing the customer alive to your employees can do for you.

While there is a lot of talk on how to use compensation and benefits or organizational relationships for greater engagement, the idea or leveraging your customers to drive engagement and productivity is less explored.

Here are 4 ideas on how to use customer insights as one of the key #productivityhacks for your workforce.

Talk about customer impact but without the polish

Communicating how your products impact the life of customers helps crystallize the sense of purpose and drive engagement and productivity.

But it’s a mistake to wait for or use glossy, produced marketing videos or the perfect case study replete with corporate jargon. Use everyday frontline employee experiences or ‘raw’ videos of customer interviews or simple sketches of buyer personas to increase involvement and credibility.

There are probably departments within your company, such as product management or marketing that are intimately familiar with the customer journey and may have tools such as buyer personals or impact videos ready for you to use. It may simply be a case of pulling together and sharing this information with a broader audience.

Share the good with the bad

A long time customer service director at an insurance company told me recently that ‘when my team hears about it, its only the bad stuff. I want to take the good to them’. Negative customer tweets or emails end up getting a lot of internal and external PR anyway, so it is essential to consciously highlight positive feedback from internal and external customers.

Provide Line of Sight

One of the companies I worked with – Intuit – that had enviable engagement scores, was wonderful at providing ‘line of sight’ to every employee on how their work contributes to customer impact both through formal performance management criteria as well as through constant communication of how their individual work is linked to the companies overall impact and strategy. In organizations large and small, it is not always clear or intuitive on how work affects the customer day to day. Linking the ripple effect of your work to impact is useful but it is more important to highlight what tools an employee can use or steps shecan take to make a difference.

Rinse and Repeat

A one time, buzzy event around customer impact generates excitement. To move the needle long term in terms of engagement and productivity, it is crucial to get customer insights to become part of the organizational DNA. Systemize communication of customer feedback – both good and back. Feature employee stories on customer impact in a regular basis. Highlight turnarounds. Communicate changes in key metrics along with verbatim feedback drawn from customer emails or social posts.

In our work with technology and healthcare companies I have seen that customer insights, when leveraged effectively can make a dramatic difference in employee productivity and engagement, whether it is within a small team, disengaged with a project or in a larger organization.